Originally written July 17, 2012 on New England Sports React:
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Over the past couple of seasons, Ray Rice and Matt Forte have emerged as two of the league’s top-five HBs. If you’re en elite running back in the NFL and are looking to negotiate a new, long-term deal, the contracts recently issued to Ray Rice and Matt Forte are good benchmarks to reference. With Rice set to make $40 million over the next five years and Forte $32 over the next four, the two runningbacks will be the highest-paid HB’s in the league. In fact, Rice is set to make $17 million this year and $25 million in the first two years of his contract. By signing their respective deals, each player voided the franchise tag and a possible $7.74 million salary they would’ve received in 2012. There is no question that they each deserve their paydays, with Rice having rushed for a career-best 1,364 yards and 15 touchdowns and Forte with 997 yards before missing the remainder of the season due to injury. Rice is among the top three rushers in the AFC, while Forte garners the same status in the NFC. Both are top-five rushers in the NFL. Their contracts not only emphasize the HB talent still present in a pass-heavy league, but also mark a trend which has become apparent this offseason. Elite players in the league have been receiving heftier paydays, and the bar at each position seems to continually get raised as teams and players compete with each other in the numbers game. It just goes to show how big of a part money now plays in the sporting world, with the size of the paycheck seeming to determine a player’s motivation and effort as opposed to simply their love of the game dictating the two. Not even salary caps have been able to help lower these numbers. Some players still hold on to a sense of their humanity, however, as exemplified by Tom Brady taking a decent-sized pay cut so the team could place the franchise tag on wide receiver Wes Welker. The quarterback is set to make just $950 K in 2012, in comparison to Peyton Manning’s $18 million and Drew Brees’s $40 million. And yet some people still question his selflessness while praising those who have cashed out on big paydays. Seems that money has blurred the line between how we perceive one’s on- and off-field character. -Ryan Hartley
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